In countries undergoing transition, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can play an essential role in promoting and protecting human rights and consolidating democracy. The 1993 Principles relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions – the so-called ‘Paris Principles’ – set out the international consensus on NHRIs and provide overall guidance for their development. Where NHRIs are newly formed and still taking shape, as in Myanmar, the Paris Principles offer useful guidelines for how these bodies can effectively fulfil their mandate as the foremost national human rights watchdog.
Myanmar’s National Commission for Human Rights (MNHRC) was established in 2011 and was an important step forward for democracy in the country. The functions of the commission include raising public awareness about human rights and engaging with national stakeholders (including parliament, civil society and technical experts) to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. However, since the MNHRC’s establishment, civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights experts have noted the commission’s lack of independence, highlighting the role the government plays in the appointment of the MNHRC’s leadership and in the approval of its budget.
The Myanmar Human Rights Commission: An Institution at a Crossroads looks in-depth at the role and functions of the MNHRC in light of international best practices contained in the Paris Principles and experiences from elsewhere in the region and beyond. To read the briefing paper, click here.